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Though Coach Dean Smith now has the monkey off his back, there's no need to fear there will be a complacent paunch around North Carolina's collective middle. The defending national champs simply have too many problems to let themselves get fat, as last week's 78-74 overtime loss to St. John's proved. NCAA tournament MVP James Worthy and Point Guard extraordinaire Jimmy Black are gone, and Virginia's Ralph Sampson isn't. By voting in a shot clock, the ACC has legislated the four corners out of the first 36 minutes of every game, and the schedule makers have matched Carolina against 1981-82 NCAA or NIT tournament participants in at least 19 games.

And there are cosmetic matters, like Michael Jordan's tongue. Jordan, the sophomore swingman who flicked in the jumper that beat Georgetown in the NCAA final last March, can't seem to do anything without it hanging out. The photographer at the team-picture session this fall had him chew on a piece of paper to keep his tongue in check. The Tar Heels' 6'6" Venus's-flytrap will have to do even more than he did a year ago, particularly while the new troops mature. An extra inch, a summer all-star tour of Europe and a new move will serve him well. The move is a jab-and-go number that Jordan uses when he's isolated.

Jordan isn't the only Heel with a new move or a new body. Center Sam Perkins now has what he calls a "countermove." "It's with my right hand, for real close in," he says. "Last year people could deny me because I'd only go left." To spell Perkins, Smith will go to sophomore Warren Martin or freshman Brad Daugherty, who was just 16 when he registered this fall. Two other recruits will challenge for playing time: Steve Hale, the son of former Oral Roberts Coach Jerry Hale, is a good-shooting lefty and skilled floor general; freshman Curtis Hunter can play forward or guard.

Junior Matt Doherty, a two-year starter, will play some low forward opposite Perkins and some "swing," a la Jordan. The guards will be Jim Braddock, the captain and only senior, and sophomore Buzz Peterson. Braddock will be a deadly three-point shooter from the point, as proved by his 7-for-11 performance in a preseason game. "I suppose if everybody were back there'd be more pressure because we'd be picked to win it," says Smith. "But we'd be better if everyone were back." Dean Smith doesn't speak in tongues.